Wednesday, October 30, 2013

iPhone vs Android - Music (Part 5)

Music is a passion of mine and I've tried about every gadget that came along to bring my music with me. In fact, I even modified my Parka (a popular brand of over-coat back in the 70's, see left) when I was in high school by sewing into the hood a speaker for each ear to be able to listen to the radio on the bus to school. The only problem was that I had to have my hood up to listen to music which got a bit hot in summer! I had to wait almost 10 years until Sony launched the Walkman in 1980. Do you remember the Discman (Sony's portable CD player), and then in 1997 came the first MP3 player. Then everything changed in 2001 when Apple launched the iPod putting 1,000 songs in your pocket. What a concept! I remember being so blown away when I saw my first one. More recently, streaming music services have grown rapidly in popularity. This year revenue from streaming grew by 40% and overtook downloads for the first time (streaming is where you listen to music played from the Cloud over the internet rather than from your phone's memory).

So given all this change, how do Android devices fare against iPhones as a way of listening to your music?

As you've probably suspected, the answers is that depends a lot on what sort of person you are, how you like to consume your music and how technical you are. I have used both and definitely prefer the iPhone as my Motorola MAXX HD would often skip during music playback. Don't know if this is Android or my phone, but it drives me crazy.

Having said that, rather than focus on the features of each device, I decided to focus on you and see if I can come up with some guidelines that might help.

I Like Music, but don't have many CD's and listen mostly to the Radio

This is probably the easiest category and quite frankly, both Androids and iPhones will work very well in this fashion. First of all, you'll need a music streaming app. There are countless to choose from. Some of the most popular are Pandora, Spotify, Rdio, Songza and Slacker. Each has advantages and disadvantages, but in essence you pay a monthly fee and in return get access to millions of songs that you can play as much as you like. Some even let you download them to your device to listen to when you're offline. They are very easy to use and setup. Tell them what you like, what you want to listen to or what you're doing and they'll do the rest. The downside for the RV'er is that many times you don't have WiFi and so streaming will eat up your data plan (streaming for an hour a day for a month will use about 1.8Gb of data).

One other thing to mention since you like the radio is Podcasting. I love podcasts because when we travel it's really hard to find a good radio station and the adverts drive me bonkers. In my opinion, this is where Apple scores very highly. With iTunes (or the Podcast iPhone app) I subscribe to my favorite radio stations (Science Friday, Talk of the Nation, The UK Chris Evans Show) which are then downloaded and saved to my phone. I can then play them back at anytime, without any internet connection through my RV's speaker system or using my Bose SoundLink (if you already have an Android, then apps like Podcast Addict do a similar thing). They really do make the journey go faster!

I Have Lots of CD's but don't Know How to Listen to them on my Phone

If this is you, don't worry, it's quite easy and I know so many people who are in this category (including my Dad!). The advantage of having your music on your phone is two fold. First of all, since you are already backing up your phone (right?), your music will also be backed up automatically. I have known people lose tens of thousands of dollars worth of music CD's through fire or theft.

Secondly, you might want to listen to your music when you don't have a CD player handy (e.g. cocktail hour outside, over at a friends house, or in the car). Finally, once you've loaded them on your device, you can get it to randomly play tracks from your entire collection (great if you're a little indecisive) or set up your favorite playlists of songs. You can even tell it which are your favorite songs and have it play them more frequently.

Another feature I like on iTunes is Genius. This looks at your music collection, what you listen to and then creates a playlist of other songs that you might not listen to much but might like. It's like having your very own DJ!

This is a category where I think the iPhone really shines. Combined with iTunes it makes it extremely easy to get your music off CD's and onto your phone. Once your CD has been converted to audio files (for example MP3), it will then automatically transfer them to your phone when you next sync. There are non-Apple music management tools, but in my experience none of them are as good as iTunes, especially when it comes to syncing with your phone.

Over time, you may want to start buying your new music directly from your phone. On iPhone, this is most easily done through the iTunes Store. On an Android, the Amazon MP3 app is probably your best bet for listening and purchasing, or Google's Play Music for listening.

I have Loads of MP3's on my Computer and Just Want to Listen to them on my Phone

This is easy. If you have a Mac, it's most likely that you'll be using iTunes and so transferring to an iPhone is super-easy and offers the most functionality. You can also look at using Apple's iTunes Match which syncs your entire collection with the Cloud and let's you access your entire collection from your device.

If you're on Windows and possibly don't use iTunes, then in my opinion, the best way to transfer your music is to copy them onto an SD card and to pop the card into an Android phone such as a Samsung Galaxy etc. This has the advantage of not taking up valuable space on your phone, is quick and easy and relies on the apps on your phone to manage your music. The downside is that it doesn't sync back your preferences or music collection to your computer, but in many cases, people don't connect their phones to their computers very often.


Let me see if I can summarize for you.

  1. If you are new to all this and don't have many CD's or music files, then both an Android or iPhone will work well for you. 
  2. If you have lots of CD's and would like to back them up and listen to them on a phone, I think the iPhone would be easiest for you. 
  3. If you are already into this whole digital music thing and are not on a Mac, then I'd suggest an Android device due to the convenience of having it on an SD card and the flexibility in music players.
Missed the others in the series? Click on the links below: